Quetzalcóatl Meso-American God

12341567_194990274176396_7333148173398226343_nQuetzalcóatl, (Nahuatl: quetzalli, “tail feather of the quetzal bird and coatl, “snake”), the Feathered Serpent, one of the major deities of the ancient Mexican pantheon. Quetzalcoatl is a primordial god of creation, a giver of life. With his opposite Tezcatlipoca he created the world. Quetzalcoatl is also called White Tezcatlipoca, to contrast him to the black Tezcatlipoca.

There are several stories about the birth of Quetzalcoatl. In one version of the myth, Quetzalcoatl was born by a virgin named Chimalman, to whom the god Onteol appeared in a dream. In another story, the virgin Chimalman conceived Quetzalcoatl swallowing an emerald. A third story tells how Chimalman was hit in the womb by an arrow shot by Mixcoatl and nine months later she gave birth to a child which was called Quetzalcoatl. A fourth story narrates that Quetzalcoatl was born from Coatlicue, who already had four hundred children who formed the stars of the Milky Way.

Quetzalcóatl ruled over the days that bore the name ehécatl (“wind”). As the god of learning, writing, and of books, Quetzalcóatl was particularly venerated in the calmecac, religious colleges annexed to the temples, in which the future priests and the sons of the nobility were educated. Outside of Tenochtitlán, the main centre of Quetzalcóatl’s cult was Cholula, on the Puebla plateau.

Descriptions of a feathered snake occur as early as the Teotihuacán civilization on the central plateau. Quetzalcóatl seems to have been conceived as a vegetation god of earth and water who was closely associated with the rain god Tlaloc.
With the immigration of Nahua-speaking tribes from the north, Quetzalcóatl’s cult underwent several changes. The Toltec culture centred at the city of Tula, emphasized war and human sacrifice linked with the worship of heavenly bodies. Quetzalcóatl became the god of the morning and evening star, and his temple was the centre of ceremonial life in Tula.

In Aztec times Quetzalcóatl was revered as the patron of priests, the inventor of the calendar and of books, and the protector of goldsmiths and other craftsmen; he was also identified with the planet Venus. As the morning and evening star, Quetzalcóatl was the symbol of death and resurrection. With his companion Xolotl, a dog-headed god, he was said to have descended to the underground hell of Mictlan to gather the bones of the ancient dead. Those bones he anointed with his own blood, giving birth to the men who inhabit the present universe.

Adela

Day of the Dead

12038293_174071816268242_164351378217089340_nWhen many think of Day of the Dead they might picture the George Romero Zombie flick but in actuality it is one of the most celebrated holidays is Mexico.
Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and acknowledged around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.

Prior to Spanish colonization in the 16th century, the celebration took place at the beginning of summer. It was moved to October 31, November 1 and November 2 to coincide with the Roman Catholic triduum festival of Allhallowtide: All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day.Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. Visitors also leave possessions of the deceased at the graves.

Scholars have traced the origins of the holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors had been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2,500–3,000 years. The holiday has become popular all throughout the world, becomimg one with other deep traditions for honoring the dead. The festival that developed into the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the goddess known as the “Lady of the Dead”, corresponding to the modern La Calavera Catrina.

By the late 20th century in most regions of Mexico, the practices had developed to honor dead children and infants on November 1(Día de los Inocentes) (“Day of the Innocents”) but also as Día de los Angelitos (“Day of the Little Angels”), and to honor deceased adults on November 2 (Día de los Muertos or Día de los Difuntos)(“Day of the Dead”).

Adela